Saturday 31 March 2018

Easter Ideas For Children

I'm sorry - I mean to post about this last week and I forgot. If you have children [or grandchildren] getting under your feet, then here are a few ideas which may help.
The Bible Society has again come up with the goods for telling the Easter Story in a different way - there is a video to watch, and lots of other resources. We shall be doing the adventure trail around the church premises tomorrow. I think it would make a good family activity with a little more purpose than the usual egg-hunt.
We shall also be making some woolly Easter lambs. The idea for these came from the wonderful "Easter - 50 activities- Fun things to make and do" book, published by Lion. This was a thankyou gift from my friends Lynne and Lars after I lent them our Nativity Costumes at Christmas. It was an inspired present- I have had so much fun looking through the ideas in it.
Here's a collage of a few of them...

I was so impressed with the variety of crafts and fresh ideas, that I took the book into one of the school where I have been doing supply to show my colleague. She is a hardworking classroom assistant [aren't they all?] who shares my love of kids' craft. She was very taken with the ribbon-tied egg card.
I was delighted to receive such a card from her class on Thursday [see top left] All the children had signed it for me.
Eight years ago, a blogfriend asked me how she could explain the Easter story to her young children. She was concerned that the crucifixion etc would be upsetting for them. This is the letter I wrote them
Even if you do not want to make the Easter story, and the joy of resurrection part of your weekend, I think it is still good to help children see beyond the chocolate, to the ideas of loving and giving, and spring and new life.
I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to being in Norfolk with all my family tomorrow evening!

Friday 30 March 2018

Thursday 29 March 2018

We Are Into SS18 - Are You Ready?

The clocks have gone forward, so according to the fashionistas of this world, we should now be into SS18 fashions [that's Spring/Summer 2018 clothes, for the uninitiated]
In my case, that means not wearing an extra tee shirt layer under my jumper. [I no longer possess a woolly vest or a Liberty Bodice now I am a grown up.]
But I was reading an article in the free John Lewis magazine on the train this week. According to the fashion director of The Times, I need to "reboot my wardrobe", and find some "everyday luxe pieces that will reinvent [my] look for the new season"
What on earth does that mean? I thought. But reading on further, it is clear that I need a capsule wardrobe which will put me at the cutting edge of style for the summer months.
For instance, this dress, a snip at £89. The article says it is magic - because "it will prove your preternaturally flexible friend. Make like the fashion pack and layer it over separates"
Yeah, right! I am not even sure what that sentence means!

Then there is the jumpsuit. The writer says "I feel it is my job on this earth to persuade any remaining resisters as to the power of the jumpsuit"
Well there's a great life ambition for you...she goes on to say that a jumpsuit is "The most youth-endowing item of clothing you cab sport as you get older"
Well, apart from the fact that everybody is getting older by the second,I would take issue with her on this one. The model in the photo is tall and slim, and the £85jumpsuit has cropped legs.
She has to be at least a foot taller than me.
So If I wore the outfit, I would not look younger, I'd be struggling in an outfit with legs which would trail on the ground - rather than making me look ten years younger, I suspect I'd look like a painter and decorator in overalls.
I have doctored the photograph to show the model with shorter legs, so you can see what I mean!

The article also advises me that "mixing upscale with athleisure has become a fashion perma-trend, with us season after season"

What does all this mean?
I clearly have no fashion sense at all. My one wardrobe addition this season has been a floaty Monsoon dress, a lovely floral print in spring colours, to wear on Easter Sunday. It was just £6 from a CS - and the assistant said "I am so glad you are buying it - three other people have tried it on and it didn't fit them"
I hope those of you struggling to reconcile your upscale athleisure permatrend are succeeding - and that your preternaturally flexible friends bend over backwards to help you enjoy the Easter Weekend!

One other unrelated thing that has amused me greatly this week - take twenty letters- and depending on how you space and punctuate them, you get two complete different outcomes
can be either
There's a Maypole Dancer!
Theresa May, Pole-Dancer...
Image may contain: one or more people and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, standing and shoes

Wednesday 28 March 2018

The Song Of The Skirt

It is 1943, and Mies Boussevain, a Dutchwoman is arrested by the Germans. She and her family have been sheltering persecuted people in their cellar as part of the work of the Dutch Resistance. Many of her family are executed immediately, but Mies and her niece are sent to the concentration camp at Vught. Seven other women share the filthy cell - but then something miraculous happens- they are sent a bag of laundry. And in the bottom of the bag of clothing, Mies finds a tiny patchwork scarf.
Someone has courageously stitched this for Mies to find. It contains a scrap of her first blue silk ballgown, patches from her children's clothes, other fabrics she recognises. It is full of memories of home, and happier times. She drapes this colourful scrap across the old mirror hanging on the wall- and tells her cellmates the stories which the fabrics represent. The women gain strength and support from one another. When they are transferred to the larger camp at Ravensbruck, the scarf is lost - but Mies survives, and the memory of the scarf, and the hope it inspired remains...
...After Holland was liberated, in May 1945, Mies' health was ruined, but her spirit was unbroken. She was insistent that the reconstruction of her nation should include opportunities for women to be healed from the traumas of the war years. 
She designed a simple skirt, to be made of authentic old scraps - transforming memories of the War Years into something new and beautiful. The concept of the 'Feestrok' - National Celebration Skirt was born. Mies created a garment that represented 'unity in diversity' (eenheid in veelheid); 'new from old' (nieuw uit oud); 'building from the broken' (opbouw uit afbraak) and 'one garment makes unity' (één dracht maakt eendracht). The skirt or feestrok was thus intended to reflect the diversity, unity and rebuilding of the Netherlands after the war.
There were strict rules - the hem had to be made of plain fabric triangles on which significant words could be stitched- started with 5 Mei 1945 [Liberation Day] Skirts could then be registered and each given a unique identification number. It is estimated that more than 4000 were made.
Women wrote to Mies, and said that working on their skirts had given them hope for the future, helped them move on. The crazy patchwork, the special dates [weddings, birthdays etc] made each skirt very personal.

Women gathered to show their skirts, celebrating their liberated country.

In September 1948, for the Golden Jubilee of Queen Wilhelmina, 1500 women gathered in The Hague to march past her Majesty and sang The Song Of The Skirt.

What an amazing story! Seventy years on, not many skirts remain, although there are some in the Amsterdam Resistance Museum and the Leiden Textile Research Centre.

What an amazing story of courage and hope. 


Weave into your skirt your own life's design,
Women and girls from village and town.
Symbol of women's aims, long may it shine:
Wear it with joy, like a flower's leaf-crown.

Marrying disparate colours and lines,
Form with your skirts the bonds that unite,
As part of history's momentous designs
With art and hand fashion shapes that delight. 

Let their prints match the times into which you were born,
In your flag let the Now and the Then find a place.
May Present and Past, both cheerfully worn,
Fill family, skirt, and your life with their grace.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Where There's A Will...

"Three books for £1" proclaimed the sign on the table in the CS - and two books about Joyce Grenfell caught my eye - one a biography, the other a book of monologues. I've often done JG's stuff as 'party pieces' and this edition had stuff which was new to me. I cast around for a third book. Frequently I end up just taking two tomes - but one book caught my eye, so I thought I'd give it a go. Then I bumped into a friend from our OAP Lunch Club, who insisted on paying for the books as an Easter treat for me. How very kind. The novel was this one
I did not know this author [apparently one of England's most high profile headteachers] but was fascinated by this historical spy thriller set in 1612.
James 1 is on the throne, his chief secretary and spymaster, Robert Cecil is dying - and the glorious days of drama are fading with the death of Christopher Marlowe and the apparent retreat of William Shakespeare.
Cecil summons Henry Gresham to retrieve the missing manuscript of an important play. 
This is the second book of the series [the first, Desperate Remedy] concerns the Gunpowder Plot] but it did not matter that I'd not read that.
HG is, in many ways, a James Bond type. Clever, ruthless, quick thinking - mostly 'on the side of the angels' but not above brutal violence if it serves his purpose. Like many heroes, he had a dysfunctional childhood [orphaned, and brought up by Mannion, the faithful family manservant] He uses his inherited wealth wisely, and is worshipped by all his household staff. He has rescued a young girl who was being treated badly by her guardian and brought her back to his home. She, of course, falls in love with her knight in shining armour - and astutely sets about running the household efficiently, until he at last realises he cannot do without her- lets down his guard, and falls in love with the bright and beautiful woman she has become, and makes her his wife.
By 1612, he and Jane have two young children, and whilst she is intelligent enough to realise his work as a spy is dangerous, she is wise enough not to get in his way. Along with Mannion, they make a formidable team. Yes, there is violence, but there is also wit, and touching descriptions of the relationships within the Gresham household. Although Jane recognises there are matters which her husband must keep confidential, they are a close, committed and loving couple with a strong marriage even in the face of adversity.
King James, William Shakespeare, Bishop Lancelot Andrewes [who oversaw the work on the KJV Bible] and other characters of the period are well portrayed, and excellent descriptions of places and costumes give atmosphere and credibility to the story.
I do not want to give away the plot - but I will say it is well crafted, and I found it a real 'page turner'. Each chapter is headed with the date, the location, and an apposite quote from either the works of Mr Shakespeare or the King James Version.
I have borrowed another in the series [Rebel Heart, about the Earl of Essex] from Ferndown Library, so that will be my Easter reading. It was, surprisingly, in the 'General Fiction' section- I had expected to find it on the Crime shelves, near C J Sansom's Shardlake. 
My knowledge of the first half of the 17th Century is woefully lacking - so this was a change from my usual Tudor or Restoration fodder. 
Read more about Stephen, and Gresham in this Guardian article
Definitely rating this *****
Has anyone else read another Gresham novel? if so, which? and did you enjoy it?

Monday 26 March 2018

Shirt Tales

 I've had this shirt for nearly 30 years now. It's a chambray cotton man's shirt from M&S. My friend Hazel had one and I admired it, and copied her idea, shortening the sleeves to fit. 
A baggy 'boyfriend' shirt, but the sleeves don't need rolling p!
It's my Saturday shirt, worn with jeans, under a navy crew neck sweater. Or unbuttoned over a bright tee shirt. 
But the collar and cuffs are disintegrating. 
I removed them, neatly backed them with a scarlet print fabric [using bondaweb and tiny handstitching] 
Then turned them round and sewed them back, having remembered to swap over left and right cuffs. 
I added a sliver of scarlet trim to the pocket top and changed the cuff buttons to scarlet too. 
I also added the contrast collar band. 
I'm really happy with the result. A few more Saturdays of wear left in this garment I think. 

Does anybody else bother to turn collars anymore? 

Sunday 25 March 2018

Palm Sunday

As part of the service I am conducting this morning, I have been asked to distribute Palm Crosses to those in the congregation. I am planning to do this just before our Prayers of Intercession. I shall ask folk to hold the cross in their hand, and look at it as we pray together.

  1. The cross has two directions, vertical and horizontal. Our prayers rise to God, we look upward. But we also look outwards and say prayers for those around us 
  2. The parts of the cross are not all the same length - one long, three short. We remember the inequalities in the world- the rich and poor, haves and have-nots. There are far more people with less of this world's goods. We pray for those who will go without food, or shelter today - and ask too that God will guide those of us who are rich to be generous and share with others.
  3. The cross is made from a leaf- we thank God for his wonderful Creation, and ask his forgiveness for the ways in which we abuse and pollute our environment. We pray for grace and strength to be better stewards of our world.
  4. The cross has been made by the labour of someone's hands. We pray for all those who labour. May they be justly rewarded and fairly treated. We pray for those who are denied the opportunity to work, and to earn, for whatever reason. May they still feel valued, and may others provide them with their needs.
  5. The cross has a knot at the centre- we pray for all those who are struggling with 'knots' in their lives. Worries and anxieties about health, or family, or future. 
  6. Finally, this is our Palm Cross - it reminds us that we can have a relationship with God, and pray to him, our Father, because of Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross.
A short, and simple meditation - but I hope it helps people as we pray.

Saturday 24 March 2018

The Doctor Will See You Now

Isn't phlebotomist a fabulous word? I remember years ago, hearing that one of the American Presidents [Nixon?] was suffering from phlebitis - and I was sure the announcer had said flea-bite-is!
Of course, these words derive from the Greek
phlebo - pertaining to a blood vessel
tomia - cutting off
Phlebotomy is the process of making an incision in a vein with a needle, and the procedure itself is properly called a venipuncture.
I am not very fond of needles and blood tests, so try to take my mind off what is happening to my arm by pondering on long words and medical terms. A recent visit to our surgery to see the phlebotomist [nothing serious, just a routine cholesterol test[] was such an occasion. 
I hadn't been in her room before, down a different corridor in our extensive, and efficient, Doctors' Surgery. When I came out, I knew that I had to follow a different route to find the exit.
I reached the end of the corridor to be confronted by these doors and their mysterious signs

I looked up 
on Google 
when I got home
And wished I hadn't!

But most intriguing
of all
Is the patient dressing inside the cupboard?

<< Way Out   
Way Out>>

It reminded me of a postcard which I once received from my Auntie. It said "I'd like to help you out - which way did you come in?"

Friday 23 March 2018

Weird - But Wonderful

Were you intrigued by the idea of the duck-billed platypus when you were at school? This crazy Australian marsupial that was thought a fake when one was first brought to England.   After all, this creature ...
  • has a beak like a duck
  • lays eggs like a bird
  • is actually a semi -aquatic mammal 
  • has feet with retractable webbing
  • the males' legs have spurs which can shoot venom
  • feeds its young with milk
  • has no nipples- the mother's milk is sweated out through the skin
How bizarre is all that? But what is amazing is that some Australian scientists have investigated this milk, and discovered it has amazing antibiotic properties, probably because it is much more exposed than regular mammalian milk which is sucked direct from the breast into the baby's mouth. It possesses a unique protein, which is formed in ringlet shapes. 

They have called it the "Shirley Temple" protein, after the child star with the corkscrew curls.
The exciting news is the possibility that these natural antibiotics may prove a way forward in the war against the so-called Superbugs . Since 2010, scientists have been working on this project.
Wow! that's thrilling enough to make anyone burst into a chorus of "The Good Ship Lollipop"
The Psalmist's view of Creation is absolutely right - everything is  fearfully and wonderfully made.

Watch this brief video of these enchanting creatures...

What do you get if you cross a hungry cat with a roast duck?
A duck-filled-fatty-puss!

Thursday 22 March 2018

In Which I Feel A Little Barmy

Bob and I have greatly enjoyed watching "Back In Time For Tea" - featuring the Ellis family from Bradford, encouraged by fellow northern lass Sara Cox, and historian Polly Russell [a proper southerner] as they travelled through ten decades experiencing the meals of a typical working class family. Much as I loved the Robshaws, going back for their dinner, I think that this series was even better. Maybe that is because Giles Coren wasn't involved in the programmes [I thought his Dad Alan was brilliant, and find his sister Victoria very witty - but GC isn't my cup of tea at all]
I was interested that the young people in the family [Caitlin, Freya and Harvey] commented on how much more bread featured in the diets of years gone by "Now it's just something on the side of a meal". I suspect Lesley, in her 21st Century kitchen, is quite health conscious and serves less bread to her family. They seemed a lovely group, and entered into the whole experiment with great gusto.
One thing Sara Cox was obsessed with was the Barm Cake. That's the Bradford/Yorkshire name for a simple bread roll. It gets its name from the barm - the froth on fermenting malt liquor, which provides the yeast for the dough.
Then last Saturday, St Patrick's Day, I came across a traditional Irish recipe, for barmbrack. This is a fatless, fruited loaf - believed to get its name from two Garlic words- bairin and breac, which mean bread, and speckled respectively. 
Following Felicity Cloake's recipe , I made some barmbrack - but used two smaller loaf tins. One to take on the train to London for snacking on my journey to WWDP committee, and one to leave behind for Bob.
That's FC's picture by the way! I didn't paint mine with sugar syrup, it would have made it rather sticky to transport. And I omitted the whiskey [sorry Bob!] It does seem there is no definite barmy connection between barm cake, and barmbrack. And don't even mention President Brack O'Barma. 
The national debate on what to call a bread roll fascinates me - this useful chart shows that an awful lot depends on where you come from...
I have come across all of these names before- except scuffler - 
What does your family call these things?

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Poop! Poop!

Sadly not the happy sound of Mr Toad driving around...
...but rather the very generous gift of a seagull last Tuesday on our lovely day out together.
My beautiful yellow SeaSalt jacket was liberally bespattered all down my left sleeve and over my back.
Bob leapt to the rescue and was able to remove most of the offensive material with a handful of tissues. 

Fortunately it happened as we were about to come home and not at the start of the day. The other good thing was that I had recently purchased [on offer for National Trust members] a twin pack of NikWax TechWash, and Wash-In Waterproofing. I have had the jacket for 15 months and it was beginning to look grubby anyway. So I tried it out.You wash the garment in the machine with the first liquid, then, without removing it from the machine, wash again with the second [short spin]. 

Then you allow the garment to dry naturally. It was all very straightforward - and I have to say I am really pleased with the result. The grubbiness on the cuffs had gone, and there are no traces of the green and brown bird-poop stains. I was initially sceptical- it all seemed too easy, but this was an excellent result. The NT offer has finished, but you can pick up these twinpacks online for less than £10, and that is enough to treat 3 garments. 

It was certainly worth it to restore my jacket to a clean, re-proofed sunshine yellow condition.
This post was not sponsored by NIkWax - but I wanted to endorse these products because I think they're good...and I know that a number of you out there have yellow waterproof jackets from one manufacturer or another, and may be considering splashing out on a bottle of two.

Tuesday 20 March 2018

Fairy Tales

The blossom has come out on the tree in the front garden during this past week. It is pink and lovely. It reminded me that whilst sorting out some stuff recently, I came across two examples of Cicely Mary Barker's 'Flower Fairy' illustrations.
One was a birthday card sent to me in 2012 by my friend Marilyn [I found it being used as a bookmark in one of my embroidery books] It has the Almond Blossom Fairy on it - with CMB's accompanying poem.

Joy! the Winter’s nearly gone!
Soon will Spring come dancing on;
And, before her, here dance I,
Pink like sunrise in the sky.
Other lovely things will follow;
Soon will cuckoo come, and swallow;
Birds will sing and buds will burst,
But the Almond is the first!
The other thing I found was a ceramic tile- a Christmas  'keepsake' gift from my SIL Denise for Liz when she was still a baby. It has a picture of the Rose Fairy on it. I've kept it safe  for over 30 years, but now passed it on to Liz for Rosie.
Best and dearest flower that grows,
Perfect both to see and smell;
Words can never, never tell
Half the beauty of a Rose—
Buds that open to disclose
Fold on fold of purest white,
Lovely pink, or red that glows
Deep, sweet-scented. What delight
To be Fairy of the Rose!
I never imagined back in 1982 that one day Liz would have her own sweet rosebud! CMB illustrated her 170 enchanting flower fairies, with botanically accurate blooms, back in 1923. Each fairy had an accompanying poem. You can find them all here. As well as details of all the fairy illustrations and books, there are colouring sheets, activity ideas, and details of Flower Fairy events. There's a FF facebook page too. I found a lovely little biography of CMB here.
She was a devout Christian and gave much of her artwork to Christian fundraisers and missionary organisations. Even Queen Mary purchased one of her paintings. 
I love this painting of a 1930s mother and child on a cold day, making toast for tea!

Monday 19 March 2018

Clean Teeth

Bob's just finished a brilliant sermon series on the book of Amos. I love discovering just how relevant the words of an Old Testament prophet are. One verse which struck me quite forcibly was this...
"Cleanness of teeth" was an idiom for lack of food. If you haven't eaten a good meal, then you won't have any debris left in your mouth. But the more I thought about this, I began to reflect on the people in our country who use Foodbanks. 
I know that these people are genuinely struggling to survive - and I am glad we have a 'Blessing Bin' at our church, where people donate tins etc, and these are collected weekly by our local Foodbank Team.
I've read lots of 'frugal bloggers' who say they economise by brushing their teeth with bicarb, or salt or just plain water. I really don't like that myself- First thing in the morning, I like to have a minty fresh mouth - and when I brush my teeth after meals or at bedtime, a bit of paste on the brush is important for me. When the girls were small, and our income was minuscule, 'new toothbrushes' were a significant family event [in the Christmas stocking, with the Easter Eggs, and for the summer holiday] But if you are on a really limited income, you're probably cutting back on all 'non-essential' spending. Maybe you have enough to eat - because of the help from the Foodbank -  will you want to spend money on toothpaste? 
I'm also aware that many women experience 'period poverty' - they cannot afford sanpro each month. The sense of uncleanness and lack of dignity must be awful.
I'm getting into the habit of buying an extra tin or two whenever I do my grocery shop, to go into the Bin. 

Last week I bought toothpaste, brushes and 'feminine hygiene' items as my donation. 
When Aline and Nadia took our shoeboxes out to Romania at Christmas, they told us how delighted the teenage girls were to find stuff like this in their parcels. Proper sanpro [[not rags] is a real treat for them.
After the Grenfell Tower fire, Liz told me she had taken underwear and sanpro to her local donation point. "Mum, you can happily wear a grubby 2nd hand jumper for a few days, but clean pants are much more important" 
Above the door of the Walworth Clinic, in Southwark - just round the corner from where Rosie, Liz and Jon live, is this plaque, put up in 1937, bearing a quote from Cicero
I am not sure I totally agree with it - but I do believe that to be really healthy, people need both good diets and good hygiene practices.
I want children to have clean teeth at bedtime because they have been able to brush them, not because they have not eaten an evening meal.

Sunday 18 March 2018

Through The Square Window

Thomas Hardy's first career was as an architect. He designed his house at Max Gate - and involved the family business in its construction. The Hardy Brickworks made the materials, and the Hardy Builders put the place up. His father declared that Thomas was 'the most difficult client he had ever worked for'
As we went round on Tuesday, the guides were quick to point out special features that Hardy had insisted be put in - sliding screens in the dining room windows, so passers by could not see him eating, and internal windows round the servants' staircase to allow more light into the upstairs corridors, and many other details.
But the one that interested me was the large window in his study. J M Barrie, the Scottish writer had said of Hardy "He looks through a window and sees things that nobody else sees"
If you look at the window behind his desk, you will see that each of the four sections has 12 small square panes, surrounding one larger square pane.
The guide pointed this out to me. He said "Hardy chose the clear centre panes deliberately. He wanted to see what was in the world outside and not be distracted by having to focus on the cross in the middle of the frame in front of him "
The guide then changed the subject and started talking about the problems in the Hardy's marriage - Emma was a devout woman of faith, but Hardy had no time for all that. Sadly it was only after her death that he realised how much he had loved her.
It is only two weeks till Easter. It occurs to me that as a Christian, my world view is affected by what happened on Good Friday- that as I focus on the Cross and God's grace, this is not a distraction, but rather a way to make sense of it all. The Way, the Truth and the Life. 

Saturday 17 March 2018

Enjoying Dorchester To The Max

The final part of our Dorchester trip on Tuesday was to visit Max Gate, the home of Thomas Hardy, now in the care of the National Trust. Thomas, born 1840, had grown up in a little cottage just outside Dorchester, where his father was stonemason and builder. He trained as an architect and worked in Dorchester and London, and in 1870 was sent to St Juliot, Cornwall on a commission. Here he lodged in the Vicarage where he met Emma Gifford [sister-in-law of the vicar] She was bright, intelligent, well read and the same age. They fell in love, she encouraged him in his writing - and in 1874, the year that 'Far from The Madding Crowd' was published, they married.
Hardy decided he wanted to moved back to Dorset - so in 1885, he had a house - Max Gate - built to his own design, on the east side of Dorchester, just three miles from his birthplace. He would often walk across the heath to visit his mother on a Sunday afternoon. This house was built to his own design, and he lived here with Emma and their grumpy little dog "Wessex" till Emma's death in 1912.
Two years later, he married his secretary, Florence Dugdale. She was almost 40 years his junior. They were at Max Gate till Hardy died in 1928, and Florence remained till her death 9 years later in 1937.
Here is a picture of Thomas, Florence and Wessex in the grounds of Max Gate in 1924
So Emma and Thomas were here for 27 years, and Florence was here for 23 years - but for 9 of those years she was a widow.
The house is really interesting, do look at the pictures on the NT site.
Kate, Hardy's sister, made the property over to the NT in 1940 - she wanted it to be kept in his memory. The contents were auctioned off [except his study furniture, which went to the museum] For many years, the Trust had tenants living in the house, then for the last 5 years, it has been properly open to the public.
Because the rooms have been re-furnished nothing is 'precious' - so you can sit on the armchairs, play the piano, turn the wheel on the sewing machine in Emma's boudoir, and sit at the desk in Hardy's study. You can even stroke the toy dog, Wessex, who perches on the sofa. 
Here's Bob sitting at Emma's typewriter in her 'boudoir', and me in Hardy's study. She and Hardy were not happy at the end of her marriage, and had separate rooms. How sad!
After Emma's death, a distraught Hardy turned the perpetual calendar to March 7th, the day they met. It remains unchanged to this day.
The house is well worth a visit- you can see the Pet Cemetery [including the grave of Wessex] and in the old kitchen you are able to make your own hot drinks and sit together round the table [I've never done that in any NT property before]
There is a sense that the man has just popped across to see his Mum at her Bockhampton Cottage and he will walk back in at any moment. 
This is where he wrote Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D'Urbevilles and The Mayor Of Casterbridge.  In this relatively austere Victorian property, he entertained many famous people
  • writers; J M Barrie, Rudyard Kipling, R.L. Stevenson, H G Wells, G B Shaw
  • poets; W B Yeats, A E Housman, Siegfried Sassoon
  • others; Ramsay Macdonald, Marie Stopes, Mrs Patrick Campbell, Gustav Holst, T E Lawrence [who regularly nipped over on his motorbike from Bovingdon Camp] and Edward, Prince of Wales
There are flowers in the urns and vegetables growing in the kitchen garden. Do check out the lovely pictures on the NT website!
A very pleasant home. Not all the rooms are accessible to the public- I was a little disappointed I could not go into the 'Bicycle Room'. There are members of my family who'd really appreciate having a room solely designated for the storage of their velocipedes!

Friday 16 March 2018

Dippy In Dorchester

 10am - into the Museum. The Dippy Team were very friendly, not at all dippy! You can check out the National History Museum site for details of how their great plaster model of a diplodocus is touring the UK this year.
In the great hall of the museum [cast iron work designed by one of the guys who worked on the Crystal Palace] is Dippy. And hordes of excited children visiting him. 

The floor of the Hall is an exposed Roman Mosaic, the only one in Europe which Joe Public can trample all over!
The Guide was explaining that the pomegranate and leaf pattern in the corner is the signature of the person who made the mosaic.
He also said there was even more mosaic to see underneath Dippy's plinth. I shall have to return after the dinosaur departs, and before my free ticket runs out

Here we are by the Jurassic Coast, so of course Mary Anning gets a mention.
There is a facsimile of a page from her commonplace book. I just love what she wrote, 200 years ago.
 And what is woman? Was she not made of the same flesh and blood as Lordly Man? Yes; and was destined doubtless to become his friend his help-mate on his pilgrimage but surely not his slave, for is not reason Her’s also? 
Upstairs, a room of more fossils, and a room devoted to Dorset writers, especially Hardy. There was a recreation of his study- he'd instructed that his desk etc should be bequeathed to the Museum, and also a feature on The Woodlanders. Two stunning smocks on display. What fabulous stitchery!
In the 'Victorian Schoolroom' Bob was very taken with the Swivelling Stand. With the top one way it is a lectern for someone to stand and speak - and the other way it is a Prie Dieu, where a person can kneel and pray. No we are not getting one at Church!
We scooted round the Gift Shop, avoiding teatowels, books and soft furry dinosaurs, and left the Museum around midday. On to the next stop of our Dorchester Day...
update - just had this email from blogfriend who cannot post her comment [Thanks Sandra - yes Dorset is indeed a great county]  
The parishes around Almer, Anderson, Wint. Kingston have a village magazine called The Red Post and I think The Worlds End pub nearby also has a history of poor people being transported.  Hope you enjoyed Dorchester...our village school visited Dippy en masse earlier, the children were all very inspired.  I hope you continue to enjoy Dorset, I feel we have a lot to offer here.  Good luck. Sandra.